Verberne, Verwimp and Vanommeslaghe Win 2014 Belgian Dressage Championships

Thu, 08/14/2014 - 20:10
2014 Belgian Dressage Championships

You’d think being famous for its chocolate and waffles would be enough, but it seems that Belgian has also taken a priority for dressage. The 2014 Belgian Dressage Championships, held in Meerdonk on 31 July - 3 August 2014, met not only with great weather, but also some fierce competition.

The Junior's gold, silver and bronze went to Numa Verberne, Lavinia Arl, and Jamina Gijsels, in the Young Riders, Jorinde Verwimp took gold again, followed by Laurence Roos and Eline de Coninck. In the Grand Prix, the medalists were Laurence Vanommeslaghe, Julie de Deken and Jeroen Devroe.

Peytier Wins FDE Pony Challenge

While the Belgian Pony Championship has been delayed until September due to a date clash with the 2014 European Pony Championships in Millstreet, Ireland, the Flanders Dressage Event Pony Challenge became the gap-filler for those pony riders staying home. The victory in this pony division went to Elle Peytier, while Antonia Arl was second and Dente de Schepper third overal.

Winner of the challenge Elle Peytier and 10-year old gelding Icarus (by Isarco x Elegant) went to this competition without any expectations, and were very happy to make a splash in their final pony year. Missing the entire season due to injury, Icarus was back on form.

"The highlight for me was winning the individual test as that morning we did the team test and I was already pleased that he behaved so well, but my individual test was even better, there were no mistakes and we got 71.610," said Peytier.  "It was incredible! Next year Icarus will go to my little sister, Inne Peytier, as she is also a good rider and will be ready for the national competition!" Elle will continue on her 5-year old Cabri Jolie (by Scolari x Casparino).

Antonia Arl had two irons in the fire for the Challenge, Equestricons Epiascer and Equestricons Defilee de Mode. After winning the team test on Epiascer with 71.615% and finishing second with Defilee (70.051%), Arl finished second and third in the individual test swapping places with her ponies. For the Kur to Music finals, she chose to ride Defilee de Mode and won the Kur with 73.025% and finished second overall.

"First in the finals of the FDE Pony Challenge," Arl exclaimed. "I'm so incredibly proud of Equestricons Defilee de Mode. With a score of 73.025% I'm super happy." Antonia's coach Alizee Froment could not be in Meerdonk as she is the French chef d'equipe working at the 2014 European Pony Championships that weekend. Antonia's elder sister Lavinia coached her at the event with success.

Dente de Schepper and Syria (by Kanshebber NPA x Watershof Pretendent), a 6-year old pony mare that Dente says is always willing to work, finished third overall after improving class after class over the three rounds of the challenge. Dente acquired the pony two years ago from her trainer Isabel Cool and ails for Belgian team qualification for the 2015 European Pony Championships.

“She loves attention, is never tired and always happy to see me," said De Schepper. "Sometimes she gets stressed and tense in competition but that’s because of her young age. She never will do something bad to buck you off. She has an exceptional trot and the canter and is really ‘wow’ when you see her move. My pony knows everything so well and is always willing to do it, that she sometimes reacts too much and if you don’t sit still on her, she is doing everything you don’t really ask. This has taught me to ride with subtle aids, and helped me to grow as a rider."

Verberne Takes Junior Gold

Overall gold in the junior division went to Numa Verberne and his 16-year old Hanoverian gelding Riverdance, who felt the championships represented a fantastic moment and a great reward for a great season. Verberne scored  70.081% (1st), 68.079 (3rd), and 72.400% (2nd).

“Riverdance did really well and I’m very happy about that," said Verberne. "On the first day he was particularly good. However the second day he was a little more difficult. I think we were both tired, so after the second day we had a training day which went really well, and so did the freestyle run on the last day.”

Numa told Eurodressage that Riverdance is not the easiest horse under the saddle, and while he is a great horse with great movements and a lot of expression, he can be a bit stubborn.  “The challenge, for me, is to manage this temperament during the more difficult moments.”

Enjoying the setting in Hulsterlo, Numa said the championships were held at a beautiful location and the event very well organized.  “There was not only good competition, but also a super “sports” mentality and the attitude between the riders was very positive and supportive," he explained. "All my Belgian friends/competitors participated and did a great job. Winning in such circumstances is what you really dream about!”

Trained for the last four years by Sophie Van Lent Baetens in Grimbergen, Brussels, Numa will give his horse a short break before setting their plan for next season. “The championships taught me that you should never give up and that hard work eventually delivers results. Winning the Championships was the reward for a long and difficult trip with many “ups” and “downs” and I guess I learned a lot over the last years which is all coming together since we have Riverdance," he said. "Riverdance and I really got to know each other last year and he helped me through the transition from pony to horse. We had to work on regularity and stability and now we can slowly start adding some more complexity in order to prepare for the future."

After missing the spring show season due to an injury, Lavinia Arl's Equestricons Next One has returned to full fitness and made his mark at the Belgian Championships. Lavinia and Next One were on form and were constantly on Verberne's heels missinbg out on gold with less than 1% point difference after three rounds. Arl scored 67.162 (3rd), 68.553 (1st) and 74.00% (1st).

"Wow, it feels great to have won silver," Arl commented. "I'm super proud of my horse and want to congratulate my fellow podium place getters Numa and Jamina."

Jamina Gijsels rode her Dutch bred Zico to bronze and told Eurodressage that the Belgian championship was awesome.

"My tests were pretty good, especially the first two. We had many errors, but my horse doesn't have much experience and he has a lot of anxiety," Gijsels explained.  "My freestyle test was not as good, and my horse didn't have a lot of courage to ride the third test, but I'm happy very happy with my overall third place. I didn’t expect such a great season and can’t wait to get set in Young Riders next year!”

Verwimp Ends Young Riders' Career with Another Gold

Riding her final Young Rider competition in winning style, golden girl Jorinde Verwimp cleaned up all three Young Rider tests with scores well into the 70’s. She will now make the transition to the Under 25 division  on her 14-year old gelding Tiamo (by Lester x Hemmingway).

"On the first day he already felt fresher than at the Europeans and so during the test, I went for more power and expression which turned out pretty well in the trot part," Verwimp explained. "He was a little bit tense in the canter part but I didn’t make any mistakes. The second day I wanted to keep him more relaxed in canter and he was much better but I made one mistake in the 3 tempi changes. In the final he was the best I've ever had him at any show and everything was perfectly on the music. I love the show in Hulsterlo, they make the place better and better every year.”

Jorinde felt great to ride in an international atmosphere while still being home in Belgium. She is ready for her future, and her continued training with Anky Van Grunsven in Erp.

“The Belgian championships were a great last young riders show, I couldn't imagine a better ending to this great time. I will now make a transition to the U25 and will compete my next international show in Zandhoven the second week of september. First, Timmie gets a deserved week of rest in the field and we will pick up the training next week.”

Lichtaart based young rider Laurence Roos finished in silver medal position. Aboard the Belgian warmblood Fil Rouge (by Stedinger x Argentinus) she scored 70.421% (2nd), 68.474% (4th), and 72.225% (3rd) to finish second overall.

Scoring bronze four years running, Roos was very happy to move up into silver and is very happy with the progress Fil Rouge has made in a very short time. “I stood on the stage at the national champs with my pony Derengo, my horse Saturnus, and now with my new horse, Fil Rouge. In a half year he has made such an evolution. In January he was still jumping around in the arena and now he is calm and listens to me, however in the stables he is sometimes still a little child. He makes a game of pushing me off the stairs while I am making his plaits. I was so happy that I could stand on stage with my rivals, that have over the years also became my good friends.”

Bronze medalist Eline Borrey de Coninck was also very happy with her results, particularly as her horse, the 13-year old Don Warohn (by Dormello x Avus) had been out of work due to an heart arrhythmua from November last year until May 2014. “We had to wait to pick up full training in June and so the championships were only our second competition of the year," said Eline.

Starting day one in 5th place, the pair got better throughout the compeition, lifting to third on day two and up into second spot in the musical finale. “It was very emotional for me because I could feel my horse gave his best for me in the kur," said Eline. "Warohn is an amazing horse who really showed that he has a top mind as he was so ill in November and than came back so well. I had the feeling he did it for me.”

Vanommeslaghe Takes First Belgian Grand Prix Champion's Title

In the big league Grand Prix division Laurence Vanommeslaghe arrived at the Belgian championships in pretty low spirits after a less than stellar performance at the CDIO Aachen, but she knew that anything could happen at her country's national championship.

“I had pretty low morale as I do not have much experience at the Grand Prix level. This is only my second Grand Prix season and so sometimes I still often make mistakes," Laurence told Eurodressage. "I went into the championships with no particular ambition, just a desire to be on the podium of course, but even so, I was not sure. My victory was a very big surprise. I'm just a little disappointed not to have finished the championships with a flawless kur!”

A citizen of Paris for over 20 years, Laurence became a member of the Belgian WEG team after winning gold at the Nationals, which were the final WEG Team selection trial.

“It is normal to have to submit to evaluations of judges and Belgian advisers, and now I have to build my legitimacy in my own country," said the France based Belgian.

Laurence feels that her horse Avec Plaisir, a 12-year old Hanoverian gelding by A Jungle Prince, is a very constant dressage partner and things rarely come as a surprise to him. “It is a little less power than usual at the moment and I felt he was a little tired in the Kur, but overall it was still a great achievement for us both," she said. "He is a horse with an extraordinary mind, with a lot of energy and go. He always wants to go, always giving, always moving, always working. It's extraordinary that in 5 years I have never felt the slightest reluctance on his part during a work session.”

However, Laurence knows that this willingness can also make the extremely sensitive and anxious at times, and she must do everything she can to keep his life balanced. “We go for walks in the woods, he gets in the paddocks daily and is kept in a huge box; all things to help him gaining confidence.”

Her first Belgian championships since her first debut ride in the pony division over 30 years ago, Laurence has since mainly competed in France, but as she is not French she could not partake in their nationals. “Since I became part of the A team of Belgium, I regularly participate in training courses organized by the federation with Sjef Janssen, but these last months have been devoted to the selection for the World Games. The next two weeks will be devoted to my preparation for the World Games and after the Games, my horse (and I) will rest certainly  from competition for a few weeks.”

As for the future, Laurence’s calendar currently goes till the end of August, and then she will see.

The silver medal with only the smallest overall point difference went to Julie de Deken on her Hessian licensed stallion Julie de Deken. Julie won the Grand Prix with 70.040%, placed second in the Special with 70.961% and second in the Kur with 74.050%. De Deken totalled 215.051 points, whereas gold medal winning Laurence Vanommeslaghe had 215.170 points!

"Lucky Dance rocks my world," said an ecstatic Julie who cracked the 70% barrier three times in Meerdonk. "I'm so proud of my horse. We literally gave it our all and slotted in with just 0.127% behind the Belgian Champion. That's the sport. A big congratulations to Laurence and Jeroen and from the bottom of my heart a big thank you to all for your great support, the organization of FDE and also the team behind me and especially my parents!"

Jeroen Devroe made a stellar return to the international Grand Prix scene after two years off since his top horse Apollo van het Vijverhof lost his fitness. Aboard the young Eres DL, he confirmed from and grabbed a team spot for the 2014 World Equestrian Games. At the Nationals, Devroe finished on a total of 211.564%.

Text by Sarah Warne - Photo © Dirk Caremans

Related Links
Scores: 2014 Belgian Dressage Championships
Fassaert Receives Bye for 2014 Belgian Dressage Championships
Belgian Team for the 2014 World Equestrian Games Announced

Past Winners
Arl, Defalque, Verwimp, Missiaen Win 2013 Belgian Dressage Championships
Arl, Verwimp, Waelkens, Devroe Win 2012 Belgian Dressage Championships
Jeroen Devroe Prevails at 2011 Belgian Dressage Championships
Jeroen Devroe Captures Sixth Belgian Grand Prix Champion's Title
Goris, Mommen, D'Hoore and Devroe 2009 Belgian Champions
Van Olst, Mommen, Vandenberghe Win 2008 Belgian Youth Riders Championships
Stefan van Ingelgem, 2008 Belgian Dressage Champion
Van Olst, Mommen, De Souter, De Deken and Devroe, 2007 Belgian Dressage Champions
Arlette Holsters and Faible Win 1998 Belgian Dressage Championships
Meiresonne, Pauluis, Smits, 1997 Belgian Youth Riders Champions